Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Myth of Being "Bi Enough"

There is an interesting situation that bisexuals (and to a lesser extent, everyone else on the sexuality spectrum who is not straight) are faced with when discussing their sexualities that straight people largely do not encounter.

As a bi person, when I come out to someone new, the question of “so, have you ever been with a woman?” usually comes up. Others who express interest in the same sex tell me they have been asked this too, but I do not know how much this occurs as a whole in the gay community. There is frequently pressure from non-bisexuals to “prove” my same-sex attraction in order to legitimize it in their eyes. My lack of experience with women has led well-meaning, curious people to ask “well, then how do you know if you REALLY like women if you haven’t had sex with or been in a relationship with one?”

Why should my level of experience determine how legitimate my bisexuality is when the same standard of determining orientation isn't applied to straight people? It sounds utterly absurd when you turn the question around. Hardly anyone thinks twice about a straight person who doesn't have sexual or dating experience yet – their word that they’re straight is taken as good enough. Even in the gay community, some have looked down upon me because I’ve never had a girlfriend or had sex with a woman (random aside: the time for the latter is coming very soon, hehe). I’ve felt pressure since first coming out at 16 to “validate” my sexuality through sex, just to stop the stupid assumptions I’m not really bi. I thankfully realized early on that desperation was not the right motive for seeking out a woman to sleep with.

My first experience with a woman is going to add to my gay résumé (if there is such a thing, haha), but I’m excited to do this because I want to. I’m eager to act on the attraction I’ve felt for years and learn more about what makes me happy. Almost 23 now, I'm finally ready to do this just for me. No one needs proof I'm bi enough. I'm secure now and know I'll be no more or less bi once going through with this.

It’s ATTRACTION that determines your orientation. Not your experience, not your peers – but YOUR feelings. I’ve been out for over six years now. I knew I liked guys before I started dating and having sex with them; it is the same for women. I’m tired of people judging me with their silly mental checklist of necessary criteria that will convince them I’m bi. Some will never believe that I, or anyone else for that matter, can be truly bi. These people aren’t worth wasting time on. Even though being asked about my experiences with women is annoying, most of the people who ask do not intend to offend me and I find it worth it to turn the conversation into a teaching moment. I won’t convince everyone that sexuality is determined by attraction alone, but I feel accomplished that I gave people something to think about.   

Fellow gay, bi, and other non-hetero people, have you encountered situations similar to the one I’ve addressed, from straight people and/or the gay community? I’d like to know if this has been an issue outside of me and the gay/bi friends I’ve talked to. If they were straight, have you challenged them to think about how ridiculous the questions seem when they’re asked the other way around?